Saturday, November 10, 2012

Taxi Cab Assaults in Dar - Warning to U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Security Message for U.S. Citizens
Taxi Cab Assaults in Dar
November 10, 2012
Over the past several weeks, the U.S. Embassy has received many reports of U.S. citizens being assaulted and robbed while riding in taxis in Dar es Salaam.  Being the victim of a crime is not always preventable, but there are some steps you can take to protect yourself.  The assaults follow a similar pattern: a person enters a taxi, often hailed by a third party.  Another person is already in the car, or someone else gets in shortly thereafter.  Then they demand your money.  If you resist, they beat, threaten, and frighten you.  They drive you from one ATM to another to withdraw funds until you reach your limit.  Victims report they are being hit, cut, and bruised if they do not cooperate.  When the victim's fund source has been depleted, the assailants drop off the victim.  The perpetrators call themselves the "Tanzanian" or "Little Mafia."  Please note these assaults are happening during the day as well as night. 
We strongly urge you to observe these safety suggestions:
·        Use only use a licensed taxi* selected by a reputable hotel or restaurant, or one parked at an official taxi stand. 
·        Never get in a taxi hailed by someone you just met.
·        Avoid riding in group taxis (daladalas and bajajis).
·        Do not travel alone.
·        If a taxi stops to pick up another passenger, exit immediately.
·        Do not carry a credit or debit card unless absolutely necessary.
·        Keep only a small amount of cash that you need for that specific activity.
·        Keep your passport in a secure location; put a photocopy in your pocket.
·        Avoid carrying a bag, jewelry, or any personal electronics.  If you must carry a bag, ensure it is  'quick release', i.e., one that you can drop before being dragged or injured.
·        If assaulted or robbed, report the incident to the police and ask for a written report.  (You will need the report for insurance or other future claims.)
·        If you are the victim of violent crime overseas, you may be eligible for benefits offered by your state's victim compensation fund.  Follow this link for more information.
·        Be mindful of your safety at all times. 
·        Please contact us if you are the victim of a violent crime in Tanzania.
*What Does a Licensed Taxi Look Like?
(Please note we cannot vouch for the safety of any vehicle or driver, this is just a checklist to determine whether a taxi might be licensed.)
·        A white car with a white (never yellow) license plate
·        A colored stripe running laterally on the side panels of the vehicle
·        A number inside a circle on both passenger doors
·        Specific windshield stickers, namely:
o   A valid insurance certificate
o   TRA sticker indicating the maximum number of passengers
o   A motor vehicle license certificate
o   A municipal council parking stand sticker
·        Does the driver's i.d. match the name of the car registration and taxi licenses?
Please be safe when you use public transportation.
The U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam encourages U.S. citizens to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) for the most up-to-date safety and security information.  Keep all of your information in STEP up-to-date by maintaining your current phone numbers and email addresses where you can be reached in case of an emergency.
You can stay in touch and get updates by checking the U.S. Embassy Dar es Salaam website.  You can also get global updates at the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs website, where you can find the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information.  Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well, or you can download our free Smart Traveler iPhone App for travel information at your fingertips. 
Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States or a regular toll line at-1-202-501-4444 for callers from other countries.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). 
U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
686 Old Bagamoyo Road, Msasani
Tel: [255] (22) 229-4000
Fax: [255] (22) 229-4721
After-hour emergencies:  Call the switchboard and wait for an operator to answer.


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